What is Milk Made Of?

MS 1.08 Interview with a Dairy Farmer

Ruper Cyster is the owner of "نورثيام ديري" (Northiam Dairy). His cows produce extraordinary milk that is popular in the specialty coffee scene of London and Kent. His wonderful crossbred cows are reared, as he says, ‘twixt Kent and Sussex Downs’ in southeastern England. He was kind enough to share some of his extraordinary knowledge of dairy farming with us in this interview.


Barista Hustle – Many baristas believe that seasonal changes in a cow’s diet will affect milk quality. Have you found this to be the case with your milk?

Ruper Cyster – Yes, especially in the spring when the cows go from eating السيلاج (العشب المحفوظ) إلى العشب الطازج. ونحن نحاول تقليص تأثير هذا التحول على أبقارنا بالسماح لها بالخروج تدريجيًا (لمدة ساعة واحدة في اليوم الأول، ثم ساعتين في اليوم الثاني، وهكذا).

BH – What sort of pasture is best for dairy cows?

RC – All our swards (pasture) are mixed, different grasses and clover. The target is for quality milk rather than quantity. We aim to have a mixed diet, as it is healthier, and a healthy animal is essential for quality milk.

BH – Can you tell us more about the grass-pickling process used to make السيلاج? Is there any technology in the making of السيلاج that can add to its nutritional benefits? Is السيلاج produced on more or less the same principle as sauerkraut—by lactic acid ⁩التخمير⁧⁩?

RC – Silage is basically pickled grass, and although I have no experience of making sauerkraut, the process appears similar. As you say, both rely on lactic acid ⁩التخمير⁧⁩. We cut the grass, leave it in the field for 24 hours (depending on weather, the maturity of crop, et cetera), and then gather it into tight bales which are then wrapped as soon as they can be. The idea is to seal the grass away from the air;